SAFETY NOTE TO PARTNERS OF PEOPLE WHO READ/WATCHED/LIKED 50 SHADES: (added 11 Feb 15) Even if your partner found this book — and now movie — titillating, it is not guaranteed that they will accept having these same things done to them. If you know that they would indeed enjoy this type of play, do not cheap out and get your toys from a hardware store. Zip ties are off limits as well as scratchy ropes no matter what the movie did. Do not improvise. Do not buy sex toys that are labeled “For novelty use.” They are not safe and have not been tested to be used in the way you are planning. For your relationship’s sake your goal must be, “A good time was had by all.”
(Article originally appeared on my old blog in 2013.)
Does your sex life need a kick in the pants? Well America, I know that when I want to read something titillating to get me into a romantic mood, I always look for sophomoric prose and insipid innuendo. Pitiful editing and lame dialogue gets me so hot. That’s why I’m a huge fan of the uber-blockbuster, Fifty Shades of Grey.
E. L. James, yep that’s a pseudonym, wrote a humdinger of a trashy trilogy after she read Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight trilogy. I haven’t read Meyers’ work, but I think it involves sparkly vampires, hunky werewolves, and one pale, angst-ridden teenage girl. I also heard that it has sold a gazillion copies worldwide and launched the careers of several nubile actors. In other words, it’s a monster money machine.
Ms. James’ homage to Twilight is well on its way to mega-profitability, too. This sexy stunner is set in Washington state, a steamy locale if ever there were one. (What was wrong with Aruba?) The motherland of flannel shirts, fog, and frappuccinos makes the perfect setting for a fresh college girl to meet a billionaire, that’s with a “B” folks, a billionaire who is fairly fresh himself at only 27 years old. He’s mysterious, he’s attractive, he’s young, he’s brooding, he’s a billionaire, so of course virginal Susie Sorority is going to get a slick case of the thigh-sweats for this guy.
Well, why shouldn’t she fall for the incredibly wealthy, but emotionally bruised man? What woman among us hasn’t let our sympathies sweep us into dating the misunderstood bad boy? Young women have a soft spot for a stray dog of a man. We have that weakness for men that don’t pull up in a limo, so think how vulnerable this baby girl is. Thankfully we grow out of this need to nurture once we learn that there’s always mange, fleas, and possibly rabies included in the package. Men who are stray dogs have attained that status because smarter women have already kicked them to the curb. Lesson learned.
Unfortunately Miss Anastasia Steele (I’m not kidding you) has not learned the wily ways of the world yet. Mr. Christian Grey (once again, I am not making this up) preys on her innocence and entices her to his Red Room (where’s Fellini when you need him) of lightweight BDSM pleasures.
Okay, this could be romping good fun. This could get the juices flowing in a marabou feather boa kind of way. But it doesn’t. Why? Apparently old E. L. programmed certain phrases into the function keys on her keyboard and randomly hit them every so often, you know, like a coke-addicted chimpanzee would. The repetition in this short book is without precedent. Ms. James’ word choices becomes distractingly fascinating in themselves.
If my Kindle search engine is to be believed, and it’s as good as anything else in this story, our little flower about to be deflowered, Anastasia says, “Jeez” 81 times and “oh my” 72 times. There are variations on the word “crap” such as “oh crap,” “double crap,” “holy crap,” and my personal favorite, “triple crap” combined for almost 100 occurrences.
Ana blushes like she’s having a stroke, approximately 125 times. She also rolls her eyes every five minutes or so, making you want to climb through the pages and bitch-slap her like the immature brat she is. In the brief interludes between eye-rolls, she raises her eyebrows. Jim Henson would not ask one of his Muppets do this much facial manipulation to convey emotions. It would have been overacting, even for Miss Piggy.
There are a combined 128 “frowns” between Ana and Christian and 125 “grins.” Schizophrenia is not pretty, people. Ana no longer has a bottom lip, having bitten it a whopping 35 times. Maybe that’s why she can’t speak articulately any more as evidenced by the staggering number of times that she and Christian “whisper” (195 times) or “murmur” (200 times) or “mutter” (50 times). Obviously this book is not for the hard-of-hearing, what with all the whispering going on.
Whatever hotness may have been achieved within these pages, whatever sensual pleasures unfolded, whatever tingle were to transpire are completely obliterated by the repetitive, lazy language. When you can turn reading into a drinking game, “Ahhh, she’s blushing again, take another shot,” then there’s no story. There’s no connection to the reader. The book is the literary version of a cheap Chinese knock off of a designer hand bag. From a distance, it looks like a book. But once you start reading it, the handle falls off and the seams split.
It’s shoddy work about a young man who could legally be classified as a stalker and a girl too naive to leave her house alone and it has made E. L. James money hand over fist. The movie rights were bid up in the multiple million dollar range and the book has squatted on the venerable New York Times bestseller list for an abysmally long time.
So, congratulations to E. L. James for her burgeoning bank account. Congratulations on her chutzpah to throw this manuscript out and see what the public thought. Congratulations to her for so thoroughly taking to heart that old P. T. Barnum quote, “No one ever went broke underestimating public taste.”
No P.T, they most certainly did not. In fact they made buckets of cash while they whispered, blushed, holy crapped, and rolled their eyes all the way to the bank.